Best fathers spend more time with kids
By Don Mathis


The June 18 Sherman (Texas) Herald-Democrat ran my letter regarding,2232,REDD_17505_4767107,00.html

David Yount’s June 13 essay, “Best fathers have more education,” is very timely; Fathers Day is June 18. But fathers are important every day of the year. I agree with Mr. Yount about that.

Gladys M. Martinez of the National Center for Health Statistics reported that “fathers who have higher levels of education are more involved in their children’s daily lives.” Who could disagree with this statement?
But when Mr. Yount says that “about 75 percent of fathers in the U.S. have children under the age of 19 and live with them,” I have to disagree. These men may live with children younger than 20 but are they his kids? Does he have other kids that, due to divorce, live with other men?

More than 10 years ago, David Blankenhorn, in his book “Fatherless America,” wrote that “tonight, about 40 percent of American children will go to sleep in homes in which their fathers do not live.” Due to the tremendous increase in out-of-wedlock births and divorces, this figure has surely multiplied.

So while the best fathers may have more education, the best fathers also have more time with their kids. It is time for custody courts to quit removing dads from families.
Let’s remember that on Fathers Day and every day.
Dad's parental involvement parallels education level
June 11, 2006
For the first time the government has made a study of how fathers function in family life. About 4,900 men between the ages of 15 and 44 were asked what they did for their children beyond supporting them financially. Across the board, the study found, "fathers who have higher levels of education are more involved in their children's daily lives," reported Gladys M. Martinez of the National Center for Health Statistics.
A father's level of education even predicts the likelihood that his offspring are legitimate and that he lives with his children. Whereas only 6 percent of male college graduates have fathered a child outside of marriage, nearly half of men without a high school education have done so.
If Dad isn't around, of course, he can't very well be expected to be an involved parent. But about 75 percent of fathers in the U.S. have children under the age of 19 and live with them.
Still, the quality of their paternal involvement reflects the fathers' educational achievement, which makes a strong argument against teenage boys dropping out of school.
After the failure of my first marriage back in the 1970s I became a statistical anomaly: a male single parent with custody of my three little daughters. There are many more single-parent dads now, but the job of raising kids can't have gotten any easier, as single-parent Moms can attest.
Here's an example of parental involvement:
About two-thirds of the more-educated dads report routinely bathing or dressing their children, compared with two-fifths of fathers who are less well-schooled. My daughters, now in their 30s, still remember Saturday nights from their early childhood when I lined them up, one after the other, for their baths. Those are not pleasant memories for them or for me, because I used the occasion to shampoo their fine red hair, invariably causing tangles I would then clumsily attempt to brush out.
Nor did I receive much in the way of gratitude for braiding their hair in pigtails before they went off to school. After I remarried, my wife adopted the trio. She was instantly more adept at child-rearing.
Back to the government report: On average, more than four out of five fathers who live with their children under the age of five report having played with them every day during the past month. But here again, the college-educated dads are more involved - 87 to 76 percent - than those fathers with, at the most, a high school diploma.
Moms apparently are more likely to read to their children, but 42 percent of the better-educated fathers do so daily compared with just one-third of dads with less formal education.
We've been told repeatedly that education builds character and civilizes us, contributing more to our adulthood than the mere accumulation of years. Separate studies have revealed, happily, that the strength of a parent's religious faith can compensate for lack of schooling by engendering a sense of responsibility in the parent.
(David Yount's latest book is "Celebrating the Rest of Your Life: A Baby Boomer's Guide to Spirituality" (Augsburg). He answers readers at P.O. Box 2758, Woodbridge, VA 22195 and dyount(at)